What is a Thought Leader and Do You Want to be One?

Thought LeadershipWhen I first started in the public relations business, I heard the term “Thought Leader” and kind of smugly laughed it off. My young PR guy brain believed it to be a euphemistic term for being influential, or a concept bandied about primarily in MBA classrooms. Today, I’m wiser (at least a little) and now completely understand the concept and believe it offers a great marketing opportunity for executives.

What is it?

“A thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” Source: Wikipedia, which coincidentally can help you become one.

Next, sounds like a good thing, do I want to be one?

You do and for several reasons: 1) Being a thought leader distinguishes you and sets you apart from your competitors. 2) It adds credibility and name recognition. 3) It brings you new opportunities, which might be new business or marketing-related. 4) It helps keep you on the top of your game. Once you become a thought leader, you have to nurture it and continue to build upon it.Read More

How Companies Make Money on Instagram

How companies can make money on InstagramWe often hear about celebrities getting paid big bucks to endorse products on Instagram. Reality television personality, model and entrepreneur Kylie Jenner purportedly earns $1 million per sponsored post.  She has 124 million followers.  According to the Instagram Rich List compiled by Hopper HQ, others who are said to be cashing-in include singer Selena Gomez ($800k per post), soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo ($750k per), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson ($650k per) and a whole slew of entertainers, sports figures and Kardashian family members making six figures. Note: I’m not certain that stars like Selena Gomez, for example, are actually getting monster checks per single post. A quick peak at her Instagram feed shows several sponsored posts for handbag company Coach – for which she has a widely reported $10 million promotion and design gig. Is part of her deal a number of Instagram posts per year, for example?  Regardless, when you have more than 100 million followers who value your endorsement, it equates to tremendous reach, even if the figures might be inflated.

While this is fun from an entertainment-news-brain-candy perspective, it’s not necessarily useful information for companies which don’t have million-dollar marketing budgets.  The typical small business isn’t paying a celeb like The Rock to rep their product.  So how should you use Instagram for your business?Read More

First Amendment and Social Media Don’t Mix

First Amendment and Social Media Don't MixWe feel it in our bones.  Free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and the First Amendment guides many of our core beliefs.  It shapes how we think as Americans and how we view ourselves compared to the rest of the world.  But guess what?  The First Amendment and social media don’t mix.

Yes, you can say practically anything online, often without legal consequence, but the First Amendment won’t protect you from losing your job, your livelihood or your reputation – and sometimes you lose all three.

Earlier this week, Hayley Geftman-Gold, a vice president and attorney for CBS, wrote on her Facebook page that she was not sympathetic to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because, she claimed, most country music fans are Republican.  She was quickly fired.

Geftman-Gold wrote: “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing. I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”

Nothing illegal about her comments.  Her argument is insensitive and idiotic but well within her right to free expression as an American.  Yet even a law license and a thorough understanding of the First Amendment didn’t help her keep her job.

Last year, United Airlines Pilot Michael Folk was suspended after tweeting that Hillary Clinton should be hanged for treason.  Folk, who also serves in the West Virginia House of Delegates, let his political leanings, and some despicable word choices, directly impact his income.  Again, he has every right to say it, but his employer didn’t, and shouldn’t, allow it.

Also last year, a Miami man went on an epic rant about the election in a local coffee shop.  His disparaging words were captured on video and posted online, turning him into a viral sensation.  The self-employed man lost clients almost immediately and is still rebuilding his tattered reputation. Did he say stuff that was offensive?  Yes.  Illegal or slanderous or defamatory?  No.  Yet severe punishment was meted out by the marketplace.Read More

College Reputation Arms Race – And Puppies

College Admissions Arms RaceThe university admissions process is a big topic around my house these days as my daughter is prepping for college entrance exams.  Higher education has never been such a big business, and the college decision grows more complicated as rankings proliferate from well-known media outlets and unknown blogs alike.  Questions are beginning to swirl around our atmosphere of friends, colleagues and family members.  Where can your kid get in?  What universities, if any, are affordable?  What defines a good college reputation these days?  More questions than answers.

One thing I know for sure is that many of the nation’s thousands of colleges and universities are engaged in a reputational arms race.

One of the main battlegrounds is intercollegiate sports, and Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity recently completed a study about it.  (Given my obsessive relationship with college football, it’s no wonder I found this interesting.)  If you follow college sports, you have heard about universities bulking-up their sports programs with the goal of raising the school’s overall profile.  Nike founder Phil Knight famously donates millions to his beloved University of Oregon with one of the indisputable strategies being that better sports teams (and very flashy uniforms) will increase the overall reputation of the university.  Financier T. Boone Pickens has made similar donations to Oklahoma State University, and I’m sure there are many other examples.Read More

Deeper Dive Into Changing Customer Experience: 5 Questions with Brian Solis

Experience vs. DesignLate last year, I met author and customer experience sage Brian Solis.  My blog post about my conversation with him, Is Customer Experience the Next Killer App?,was one of the most widely shared, liked and tweeted blogs that I have ever written.  And since then, you can’t swing a dead cat without hearing a marketer chime-in about improving the customer experience, or CX, as we cool people like to call it.  I had a follow-up call with Brian recently as he transferred from car to plane on one of his many worldwide speaking engagements and workshops discussing CX.  Here are five questions and answers with Brian which will assist any business owner or executive who wants to improve the customer experience in their business. 

John P. David: When did you realize that customer experience is the new brand?  Did it hit you in the shower or was it an evolution? 

Brian Solis: I definitely see it as an evolution.  I have tracked and researched customer relationship trends for many years, and when I looked at the iconic brands, I believed that their successes were bigger than the products and bigger than the brands themselves.  Iconic brands like Apple and Disney offer more.  I have been studying the issue for more than seven years and spent the last three years working on the book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design.

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Is Customer Experience the Next Killer App?

design is artEveryone in service businesses talk about it. Amazon.com lists more than 100,000 titles on the topic. Sometimes it seems like it’s a quest that challenges every business owner in America. I’m talking about the concept of “exceptional customer service.” If I had a nickel for every business owner who ever said that they wanted to emulate how Apple engages customers or how Disney treats its guests or how Ritz-Carlton does anything and everything, then I would be able to spend the rest of my days fishing in the Gulf of Mexico with the singular care of bagging a bonefish. We all talk about improving the customer experience, but it remains incredibly elusive as many businesses continue to struggle with maintaining consistent service. Oftentimes, acquisition and retention efforts trump the ability to even consider such a nebulous concept as “customer delight.”

I recently attended a presentation by author Brian Solis, skeptically wondering what mysticism I might get on this topic.  According to Solis, not only are most businesses failing at the customer experience, but they are failing by design. As an analyst and anthropologist, he has researched the problem and offers an interesting and credible perspective. His book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, not only details why Apple and Disney kick ass in the experience department but also explains how the key to their success is understanding their customers on multiple levels. Thankfully, Solis isn’t a consultant trying to push a particular system on customer engagement and whatnot. Instead, he outlines how customer experience is the new differentiator and how every business can make meaningful changes. To date, Apple, Disney and the Ritz are ahead because they have designed their products around the customer experience. But fear not. The rest of us are not yet out of the race; we can all catch up.Read More

What if The Interview Sucks?

the-interview-seth-rogen-james-francoHonestly, my first reaction to hearing the news that Sony was cancelling the release of its movie The Interview because of threats from North Korean hackers and blowback from theater chains was this: North Korea, you need to lighten up. Have you seen Seth Rogen and James Franco? Have you seen their movies? Do you really think they could be a danger to the North Korean military? One only needs to watch Pineapple Express to see that this is not a credible threat – unless you are worried about them stealing your weed.Read More

You had me at Ello! 5 Questions with Todd Berger

DavidPRblog interviewed Ello's Todd Berger

Ello Logo

Rarely a week goes by that I don’t encounter someone who is frustrated with social media. I have friends who have taken extended breaks from Facebook, and others who often see it as a platform for people to be nasty in a somewhat anonymous manner. Still others just find Facebook overly commercialized.

Entrepreneur Paul Budnitz and designer Todd Berger fall into this category. Budnitz, who also sells titanium “city” bikes that can retail for more than $8,000, and Berger are two of the founders of a new social network called Ello.Read More

New Trend: Be Invisible Online 

snapchat

Businesses spend years and millions of dollars making it easier for customers to find them online, but an emerging trend suggests they also are seeking ways to be invisible.

A study last year from the Pew Internet Research Project found that most internet users would like to be anonymous online at least occasionally. The report said that 86 percent of users have taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprints—ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email, from avoiding using their name to using virtual networks that mask their internet address.Read More

Changing the PR Channel

vintage antennas david pr groupAs I have told my stunned teenage children, we only had four television channels when I was a kid.  Back in the day (and by this I mean before anyone ever said “back in the day”), before cable television, before the Internet, and way-before a full-season of House of Cards dropped in one day, we had four TV options: the local affiliate stations for ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS.  Television channels were broadcast over the airwaves (not Wi-Fi), and some TVs only showed footage in “black and white.”  Our viewing choices and channels were very limited, but we didn’t know any better.  Oh yeah, there was an informal fifth channel which I will call the “Shut-Off the TV and Go Play Outside Channel,” but the details of that one are best left to another post.Read More